2002 Pakistani referendum

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A referendum on allowing Pervez Musharraf to continue as President for five years was held in Pakistan on 30 April 2002.[1] The proposal was approved by 97.97% of voters.[1] However, the referendum was boycotted by the opposition on the basis that it was unconstitutional.[2] Although turnout was reported to be 56.1%,[1] the opposition claimed it was between 5% and 7%.[3] The poll was criticised for being "marred by gross irregularities" by the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan.[4]


Musharraf came to power in a military coup on 12 October 1999. He initially referred to himself as "Chief Executive", before later removing President Rafiq Tarar from office and assuming the post himself. Musharraf claimed that holding a referendum was abiding by democratic laws, despite the constitution of Pakistan not containing a reference to electing Presidents by referendums.[5]


The referendum was seen by many as a sham or fixed. Opposition parties including the Pakistan Peoples Party and the Pakistan Muslim League referred to the decision of Musharraf to hold a referendum as inappropriate and urged citizens to boycott the vote.[6] In response, the voting age was lowered from 21 to 18 and the number of polling stations significantly increased, whilst ID cards were not required for people to cast a vote.[6]


Choice Votes %
For 42,804,000 97.97
Against 883,676 2.03
Invalid/blank votes 282,676
Total 43,970,352 100
Registered voters/turnout 78,300,000 56.10
Source: Direct Democracy


  1. ^ a b c Pakistan, 30. April 2002 : General Musharraf als Präsident für 5 Jahre Direct Democracy
  2. ^ Opposition boycotts Pakistan referendum BBC News, 7 April 2002
  3. ^ Pakistan referendum: The way to decide the country's future? BBC News, 7 May 2002
  4. ^ Musharraf wins huge backing BBC News, 1 May 2002
  5. ^ Referendum 2002 Story of Pakistan
  6. ^ a b Pakistan’s sham referendum endorses Musharraf as president World Socialist Website
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